Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 - Update

Geoff Bevan, Gerrad Brimble


The Employment Relations Amendment Bill (previously discussed here, here and here) passed into law on 11 December 2018 as the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018.

Several reasonably minor “employer friendly” changes were introduced to the Act just prior to it becoming law, no doubt as a result of negotiations within the coalition. In particular:

This article outlines some of the key changes, focussing on the issues that may require employers (particularly larger employers) to make changes over the next few months.

When do larger employers have to stop using trial clauses?

Employers with 20 or more employees can include trial clauses in their employment agreements up until 5 May 2019. From 6 May 2019 those clauses will not be not lawful.

Any trial period validly included in an employment agreement before 6 May 2019 can still be used, so we will still see large employers dismissing under trial clauses up until early August 2019.

Immediate changes

From 12 December 2018, the following changes apply:

Union access

Other changes

6 May changes

The following changes will apply from 6 May 2019:

Collective agreements – terms and coverage

Vulnerable workers

Rest and meal breaks

Collective bargaining

Other union related changes

11 June 2019 changes

From 11 June 2019 discrimination in employment on the grounds of an employee’s union membership status or involvement in union activities will be grounds for a personal grievance claim, widening the grounds from the current ground of “involvement in the activities of a union”.


Please contact our employment law team if we can help you prepare for these changes.